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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Ferry Street Bridge
US-169 Mississippi River Crossing
Anoka, MN to Champlin, MN

US-169 Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI: 4380.
• Location: River Mile 871.6.
• River Elevation: 830 Feet.
• Highway: US-169.
• Daily Traffic Count: 42,500 (2002), 48,000 (2008).
• Bridge Type: Concrete Arch.
• Length: 995 Feet, 108 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 4 Traffic Lanes, 72 Feet.
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable.
• Height Above Water: 19 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened 1929, Rebuilt 1996 To 1998.
If someone wanted to capture the grandeur of the bridges that cross the Mississippi River, they could start and complete that process in just this one location in Anoka, Minnesota, at the US-169 Ferry Street Bridge. This is, bar none, the most elegant and spectacular bridge to cross the mighty Mississippi River. Yes, Memphis has the big-M, Alton has the Superbridge, and the Twin Cities have the 10 lane super-slabs, but when it comes to style and flair, this is where it is happening.

The bridge consists of 10 concrete arches loaded with art deco style detail. This includes the rounded parts of the piers, the lines in the thicker beams, the ornate guardrail, and the decorative lighting. The bridge looks like a small army of concrete elements marching across the river. On a still day, the bridge casts a shadow on the river's mirror-like surface that is difficult to tell from the original. Despite these decorative details, the bridge is still an impressive 995 feet long, just 5 feet shy of the 1,000. Despite being built in 1919, this bridge still manages to carry 48,000 vehicles a day.

Time hasn't always treated this bridge so well. The bridge was largely neglected most of its life, and fell into disrepair to the point where it had to be closed in 1991. The state Department of Transportation was unsure what to do. They built a temporary bridge next to this bridge to carry the traffic across the river while they debated an outcome and searched fro funding. It was finally decided in 1996 to restore the Ferry Street Bridge by rebuilding it from the arches up, a construction project that took 3 years to complete. At the same time, the deck would be made higher, and dedicated sidewalks would be installed. Once the bridge was completed, the temporary bridge was removed, and US-169 once again uses the 1929 bridge.

Based on looks alone, the wait during the 1990s was certainly worth it. The rebuild structure has the looks of the old bridge and the technology of a new bridge in a best of both worlds combination. The photos above and below, taken along side the north face of the bridge in the spring of 2005, shows that the bridge almost glows in the low angle evening sunlight.

US-169 Bridge
US-169 Bridge
The photo above is a view of the bridge deck taken during the late evening in the spring of 2005. The photo below is a fall 2008 view looking the same direction from the other side of the roadway. This is the first photo of three views taken while crossing the bridge heading northbound.

US-169 Bridge
US-169 Bridge
These photos are two more views of crossing the Ferry Street Bridge from south to north in late 2008. In the photo above, we are about halfway across the bridge. The photo below is a view of the landing on the north end of the structure.

US-169 Bridge
US-169 Bridge
The photo above was taken from Chandler Park, located about a half mile downstream from the Ferry Street Bridge. The photo below was taken from Peninsula Point Park, about 1,000 feet downstream of the bridge, near where the Rum River flows into the Mississippi River.

US-169 Bridge
US-169 Bridge
The photo above is a view of the downstream face of the bridge on a bright sunny fall morning in 2008. The photo below is a close view of the main span taken from the same location. Notice the pattern that light reflecting off of the water forms on the concrete.

US-169 Bridge
US-169 Bridge
The photo below is a view of the piers from under the south end of the bridge. The photo below is a view of the south end of the bridge. The first arch span is smaller than the river spans. This allows for a trail to be run under the bridge.

US-169 Bridge

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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